This I Believe
I believe that success is making a difference in other people’s lives. I have been a teacher for 2/3rds of my life, now. I haven’t made a fortune, I drive a 12 year-old car, and I ride the bus to college along with my struggling students. Why would someone choose a life of middlin’ potential over the “big bucks”?.
Maybe that story goes back to a frozen February night when I was twelve years old. I woke to the shrieks and wails of my mother as she stumbled up the stairs to my bedroom. A mildly retarded family acquaintance had just rung our doorbell to announce, ”Bobby is dead. He’s dead on the road.” Bobby was my big brother, a tall, talented college kid, the sun in my parents’ universe. My mother collapsed on my shoulders, “ He says my Bobby’s dead. He says my Bobby’s dead”
What I learned that awful night was that nothing I own can make me safe. Nothing can deter disaster. The rich and mighty can fall from the sky – the Big Bopper–, overdose on drugs. We are all vulnerable and fragile.
So maybe that night, or one of the nights during the awful years that followed when my mother sank into despair and I became my parents parent, I decided to put my stock in something that will live beyond my brief days. I decided to light some sparks of learning. To show students what they’re capable of, and maybe what we’re capable of together.
Success to me is the happy buzz of students chatting about their new discoveries, planning projects and improving their futures. Although I may never reach the dream house, I am building a better future for those I’ve helped along the road.
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